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Under pressure!

Social distancing and masking is added pressure for youth ministry.

Are you under pressure to plan this new year “like normal”? Christy Miller White encourages persons to reimagine ministry in the face of continued uncertainty of life during the pandemic.


Coordinator of Youth Ministry Initiatives, Michigan Conference

As we all get used to writing a new year on paperwork, it is tempting to think that all the stress and chaos of the last year are left behind as the calendar changes. Unfortunately, that is not the reality we experience. With the new year comes additional pressure to plan for the coming year “like normal,” when we have no idea what that will be as we move closer to closing this chapter of quarantine life.

If your life is feeling like the Queen’s hit, “Under Pressure,” you are not alone. Here are some ideas to move forward this year and reimagine ministry in this new context of constant uncertainty.

  1. Don’t forget to breathe.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Check yourself right now. Are your shoulders tense? Release those muscles and roll your shoulders back a few times. Take a deep breath. Hold it for three seconds and release slowly. Science has found time and time again that deep breathing resets our brain and can calm our fight or flight response. (There are many articles, but here is one for quick reference. When things feel out of control, remember to keep breathing!
  1. Reach out to colleagues.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are not alone. We don’t all serve in the same contexts, but many of us share similar joys and concerns in ministry. If you work with youth or children, you are welcome to join us as we gather together once a month to share resources and community in the REACH Network Group for Children and Youth. Registration is open anytime during the year, and the best news is that in 2021 this REACH Network Group is being offered at no cost to you!
  1. Find your jam.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whether your online streaming service/radio is set to country, classical hymn arrangements, or the staccato rhythm of rap, you need to find something that helps you feel inspired. Podcasts, music streaming, online worship services, and audiobooks are all fantastic ways to keep your brain engaged and continue the lifelong process of learning. Worship with a Michigan UMC church that you have always wanted to visit, and now you can experience online. Find an author or podcast that challenges you to move forward in your spiritual and emotional journey. Listen to the tunes that allow you to feel what you are experiencing in this moment or music that lifts you up and inspires. 
Technology can be its own kind of pressure and stress but is an important tool.
Activities that used to be in-person are now virtual. Technology can be stressful but online engagement has been an important avenue for youth ministry in the pandemic. ~ photo courtesy Rachel Labram, Marshall UMC

Always remember that you are enough.

In a rush to do bigger and better things in ministry, we can often lose sight of who we are and what we are called to do. Rejoice in all the things you have accomplished! In this endless season of change, do not ever forget you are loved; you are equipped, called, and strengthened; and you are enough. God will use you in this moment and the years to come as you seek to transform the world in love through Jesus Christ.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

    and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

    and the young will fall exhausted;

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

    they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:28-31]

If you have any questions or would like more information about youth ministries and Christian Education resources, please contact Rev. Christy Miller White at [email protected].

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference